Sonia Torres and Jason Barton finished second at the National Parliamentary Tournament of Champions (NPTE) last weekend in Reno, NV.
Torres and Barton reached the final round after winning ballots in preliminary rounds and fighting through six elimination rounds. In the championship round, the judges chose to vote for a very competitive team from the University of California, Berkeley over Torres and Barton.
Sonja Torres was seventh overall speaker.
Jason Barton was 11th overall speaker.
This incredible accomplishment caps an outstanding year and career for the two seniors, who regularly appeared in elimination rounds, brought home multiple speaker awards, and were regarded by many as the "smartest team in the nation," and as "an underestimated team who could win it all." Torres and Barton are the first Rice team to reach finals at the NPTE, marking an important milestone and placing them among the top few pairs in the team's storied history.
Sophomores Shine at the NPTE
Annie Chen and Maddy Scannell finished eights in the final rankings, reaching the fourth elimination round, after winning 10 ballots in prelims. This is an astounding feat for sophomores.
Sophomores Amy Lin and Joel Abraham also qualified for the tournament and debated well in a difficult preliminary draw.
David Worth was named coach of the year by the NPTE board.
The NPTE is a qualification-based tournament, based on win percentage over the entire season. The NPTE recently revised its qualification rules and as a result this year's tournament was the most difficult to qualify for in the history of the tournament. The process yielded 26 qualifiers (out of 458 ranked teams) from the top debate teams in the nation. These teams then debate five preliminary debates with two judges each. The teams with a qualifying ballot count are then seeded into a grueling double-elimination bracket that eventually results in a final round for the championship.
Two Paths to a Debate Championship
The NPTE is one of two routes to a debate championship in the format in which Rice competes. The other path is the National Parliamentary Debate Association's NPDA National Championship Tournament, an open invitational featuring a wide variety of teams. By analogy, image that a college basketball team could compete in both the NCAA tournament and the NIT tournament. Rice also had its best NPDA in many years the weekend before NPTE in Utah, finishing third in the nation!
Rice debaters left to right: Robert Chen, Kia Witt, Amy Lin, Sonia Torres, Alissa Kono, Alina Zhi, Joel Abraham, Jason Barton. Not pictured: Annie Chen and Maddy Scannel
Success at NPDA
As a squad: third place National Championship Tournament Sweepstakes
Also as a squad: sixth place National Season Sweepstakes
Torres and Barton performed at an elite level in the NPDA tournament, reaching quarterfinals after going undefeated in their first six debates, and going 6-2 overall in preliminary rounds.
Sonia Torres was 16th overall speaker (out of 214).
Jason Barton was 20th overall speaker (out of 214).
Sonia Torres and Jason Barton were each named to the NPDA All-American Team, an honor based on academic and competitive success as well as service to the various communities of which debaters are part.
Lin and Abraham also debated very well and qualified for elimination rounds, going 6-1 in prelims and reaching octafinals.
First-Year Student Success
First-year students Alissa Kono and Robert Chen qualified for elimination rounds, going 5-3 in prelims, reaching triple-octafinals.
First-years Kia Witt and Alina Zhu went 4-4 in prelims missing the break to elimination rounds by a single ballot.
These are extraordinary outcomes for first-year students and they predict a very successful future for these talented debaters.
Coaches as National Officers
At the conclusion of the tournament, David Worth assumed the presidency of the NPDA, after serving as vice president for two years and as tournament director for the preceding two years.
Shannon LaBove will also continue her term as NPDA treasurer in 2019-20.
Speech Competitors Excel in New York
Two Rice speech competitors competed at the Pi Kapa Delta National Tournament last weekend at Hofstra University. This unique open invitational tournament brings competitors from across the nation and classifies finalists by category rather than placings.
Gennifer Greer and Lauren Palladino
Persuasive Speaking: Top Superior (Tournament Champion)
Informative Speaking: Superior
Impromptu Speaking: Superior
After Dinner Speaking: Superior
Extemporaneous Speaking: Excellent
On to NIET
Geer and Palladino will represent Rice =, along with speech competitors Izzy Rodriguez, Cole Lambo, Alonso Medina, and Tiffany Sloan at the American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament (AFA-NIET) this weekend in Alabama. These competitors qualified for this national tournament by reaching finals and placing high at three separate tournaments in the regular season. The NIET will conclude the season for Rice Speech and Debate.
Please congratulate these amazing undergraduate academic competitors!
Two academic visitors who are Rice alumni aided the team tremendously this year. The team is grateful to Sylvia Omozee and Michael Portal. In addition, the team has enjoyed support in various specific ways from many alumni this year including Kern Vijayvargiya, Vera Ranneft, Ryan Sun, Aparna Bhaduri, Ted Torous, and Allison McKibban.
Rice Speech and Debate is housed in the School of Humanities and is coached by David Worth and Shannon LaBove.